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The Political Situation. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
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page: 52

IS IT WORTH THE COST?

Further, and finally: Is it worth while for us, as Cape Colonists, to submit to the dominion of the Monopolist, with all that pertains to it, simply because we believe that that party, in annexing and apportioning the lands north of the Transvaal and the Cape Colony, is thereby extending the territories under the British flag?

I, for one, have not only a cordial affection for my own nation, but also for British rule. I believe that, with all its page: 53 faults, it is often a beneficent and a generous rule; and were it possible to annex to-morrow, without injustice to others, or heavy moral and social loss to ourselves, the whole of Africa, from the Straits of Gibraltar and the Isthmus of Suez to the Cape Colony, and place it under the English rule, I, for one, should cordially welcome that possibility.

But a nation, like an individual, may pay too dearly for desirable objects. It is highly probable that Naboth's vineyard, lying as it did contiguous to the domains of Ahab, formed an exceedingly desirable adjunct to that property. The mistake page: 54 in Jezebel's calculation lay in the fact that the price ultimately to be paid for the annexation somewhat exceeded the value of the land.

I hold, much as I desire to see the extension of the British Empire, that the Colony is in this case paying too dearly for this extension. I hold that no possible accretion of kudos and racial gratification can ever repay us for the heavy price in the demoralisation of our institutions, and the retrogression in our legislation, which the Cape Colony is paying to support the Monopolist Group, and enable it to undertake its annexations.

page: 55

Further, leaving this point of view for a moment, and taking the lower and purely monetary standpoint, let us see what the Colony really has to gain commercially by these annexations south of the Zambesi.

It appears to me there is a good deal of misunderstanding upon this point. I cannot see, from this lower standpoint—nor have I ever yet met a man who could explain to me how he saw—that the taking over of Mashonaland and Matabeleland by the Chartered Company would increase the wealth of the men and women of the Cape Colony. It appears to me more than probable, when page: 56 we study the map, and other conditions of the problem, that the opening up of these territories, so far from increasing the wealth and influence of the Cape Colony, will ultimately subtract from both. If Rhodesia and the country north of the Transvaal should become populated and important, I cannot for a moment conceive that they will still continue to draw up their supplies from the very toe of South Africa; that new routes will not be formed, along which trade will make its way to Central and Eastern South Africa, without coming into contact with the extreme south of the Continent.

page: 57

Further, we as Cape Colonists have now more land than we require; our need is for men, and I do not see how the annexation of the Chartered Company tends to draw them into the Cape Colony. I take it that, however wire-pullings may avail for a few years, ultimately the traffic both in passengers and in goods to East and Central South Africa will find the shortest and cheapest routes, which will not be through the Cape Colony; and the Cape Colony, denuded to a large extent of its trade and its importance in South Africa, will have to depend solely upon its internal resources, which, page: 58 abundant though they be, are now allowed to lie undeveloped, while the people's eyes follow this northern will-o'-the wisp.

But it may be said, and said very truly: “Granting that the Cape Colony does not gain either directly or indirectly through the possession of Rhodesia by the Chartered Company, and even that it loses heavily in the material sense, there is yet no reason, from the broadest humanitarian standpoint, why it should not support the movement.”

Now, I fully allow that it may be right and desirable that a portion of a people should sacrifice itself for the benefit page: 59 of the whole, or that a whole nation should sacrifice itself for the benefit of humanity at large. That this has not yet been done in the history of the world by no means proves that it is undesirable or may not yet be done. But what I most strongly hold is that in this instance sacrifice on the part of the Cape Colony of its internal interests, social and material, if undertaken to enable the Chartered Company to obtain possession of the territories north of the Transvaal, will be sacrifice thrown away.

I know that it will be said, “But think of the terrible con- contingency page: 60 tingency had the Boers entered that country and started a new republic there!”

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